Even if you’re not a climber, add ‘The Dawn Wall’ to your watch list.


Last night, I was searching for an easy movie to watch before falling asleep. I’d already caught up on the Bachelor (judge me), finished my book (The Berlin Girl—it’s fantastic) and it was only 10 p.m.

Being a pandemic, wintertime and feeling stuck in the city, I gravitated towards The Dawn Wall, expecting an adrenalin-pulsing climbing film.

I received so much more than that.

I’ve watched my fair share of adventure flicks. I absolutely loved Valley Uprising, which I watched before a trekking trip to Yosemite National Park in 2019. Free Solo is already saved on my Watchlist on Prime.

The Dawn Wall offered more than a heart-pounding adventure some 3,000 feet (914 metres) above the Earth on a sheer vertical rock face. More than anything else, it was a story about endurance, dedication and overcoming obstacles.


Caution: Possible spoilers for ‘The Dawn Wall’ below.

Before the documentary reaches the 20-minute point, there is young love, a kidnapping and a rebel takedown. Ten minutes later and the hero of our story has physically injured himself so seriously he may never climb again. The irony? It wasn’t even from a fall.

While I must admit free soloing is likely more bad*ss than the free climbing adventure Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson embarked on—in which extensive ropes, supplies and even a base camp helped them scale the Dawn Wall—I was constantly impressed by the climbers' vivacity and will to continue, especially in the crossfire of a media circus, increment stormy weather and differing skill levels. At some points, the romance (and bromance) takes centre-screen, but the emotion and deep connection only adds to the plotline. This is, after all, a love story: one man’s infatuation with a slab of stone and the six years it takes him to climb it.


Have you watched The Dawn Wall?

What is your favourite adventure movie?

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